Gold or Gulag? It’s a question on the minds of many anxious athletes and journalists as the Olympics kick off in Beijing — one made more urgent by the physical removal of a reporter by Chinese officials on live television.
“Our correspondent @sjoerddendaas was pulled away from the camera by security guards at 12:00 p.m. live in the NOS Journaal,” tweeted Dutch public broadcaster NOS, Friday. “Unfortunately, this is increasingly becoming a daily reality for journalists in China. He is fine and was able to finish his story a few minutes later.”
The not-so-subtle move from the Chinese is further proof that the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOC) meant business when it announced it would punish those foreigners who spoke out in a manner the Chinese Communist Party deems is “against the Olympic spirit.”
Onze correspondent @sjoerddendaas werd om 12.00u live in het NOS Journaal door beveiligers voor de camera weggetrokken. Helaas is dit steeds vaker de dagelijkse realiteit voor journalisten in China. Hij is in orde en kon zijn verhaal gelukkig een paar minuten later afmaken pic.twitter.com/GLTZRlZV96
— NOS (@NOS) February 4, 2022
As reported in American Wire News, Yang Shu, deputy director-general of international relations for the BOC, announced in mid-January that, while speech in line with the Olympic spirit would most likely be protected, “Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.”
That the “Olympic spirit” went undefined was enough to fuel anxiety among the competitors and journalists participating in the global games.
No nerves were settled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, while speaking Thursday at a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing, delivered a chilling warning for our Olympic athletes.
“Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless,” Pelosi cautioned, saying the athletes are “there to compete.”
“I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there,” Pelosi said. “I respect that, but I also worry about what the Chinese government might do… to their reputations, to their families.”
“Pelosi ostensibly slammed the Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee for choosing Beijing as the venue for the Games given the Chinese Communist Party’s horrific human rights record,” reported BPR.
It’s a significant change in tone from the speaker, who just last September told a crowd in Cambridge, England, that, while the U.S. was aware of China’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, we needed to continue working with China on the “overriding issue” of climate change.
Join me at the @CambridgeUnion for a moderated conversation and acceptance of an honorary membership. https://t.co/Mekj48Wo6a
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) September 16, 2021
GOP leader Kevin McCarthy swung back at Pelosi’s Olympic-sized warning, tweeting, “Speaker Pelosi doesn’t want to upset the Chinese Communist Party. So she’s warning US Olympians to stay silent about China’s atrocities.”
Speaker Pelosi doesn't want to upset the Chinese Communist Party. So she's warning US Olympians to stay silent about China's atrocities.
No surprise this comes right as Democrats are trying to jam through the 3,000-page 'America Concedes Act' that helps China but hurts America. pic.twitter.com/3dKDU0nepn
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 3, 2022
Naturally, none of this political posturing is comforting to the actual athletes and reporters in Beijing, who are being pressured by activists to speak out against China’s horrific human rights violations, whilst simultaneously being told to keep their mouths shut.
Activists want Olympians to speak on China’s human rights abuses. Athletes are afraid.@YahooSports @HenryBushnell https://t.co/6U57e0jF1A
— Global Athlete (@GlobalAthleteHQ) February 4, 2022
“There’s a lot of us athletes who are super upset about the genocide in China,” an American snowboarder, who wished to remain anonymous, told Yahoo! Sports. “We’re upset about it. But we’re struggling to figure out, what can we do?”
And what, you may wonder, did the NOS reporter do who went against the Olympic spirit?
According to one source, he dared to broadcast from an “unphotogenic location.”
A man wearing a black jacket & a red band around the sleeve which appears to distinguish him as a 'Public Security Volunteer', interrupted @sjoerddendaas's report because den Haas was broadcasting from an unphotogenic location than the glamorous Bird's Nest stadium. #Beijing2022 https://t.co/6K89djtCap
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) February 4, 2022
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